Some of the foods we purchase are packed in a Styrofoam. Such type of packaging often leaves us skeptical with regards to its safety when putting in a microwave. We often hear people asking and wondering, “Can you microwave Styrofoam?” This article provides well-detailed information that uncovers the truth about microwaving Styrofoam containers.
Table of Contents
- Is Styrofoam Hazardous?
- The Two Different Types of Styrofoam
- Can You Microwave Styrofoam? The Truth!
- Alternative Approaches for Styrofoam that Fails to Meet the FDA Requirements
- Will Styrofoam Melt?
- Important Points to Remember
Is Styrofoam Hazardous?
Polystyrene, which incorporates harmful particles of styrene and benzene, is one primary chemical ingredient of Styrofoam. They are compounds with potentially neurotoxic and carcinogenic properties and other adverse health effects.
The debate over hot substances, therefore, depends on whether polystyrene leaks into the food when it is warmed up in a microwave oven. Numerous studies have been published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) demonstrating that polystyrene has been shown to show indications of decay roughly 200-degree Celsius and those tiny quantities of polystyrene have been emitted.
At those level of temperature, you should not want to reheat anything in Styrofoam! It is not possible to consume a pot steak on the styrofoam microwave. Microwave plastic will certainly disintegrate plastic at those temperature increases.
The Two Different Types of Styrofoam
Before we delve deeper and answer the question as to whether or not you can microwave Styrofoam, let us first distinguish the two different types of Styrofoam – the traditional Styrofoam or polystyrene and the newer version of Styrofoam.
1. Traditional Styrofoam
Polystyrene consists of styrene and benzene that are regarded as harmful compounds. Polystyrene is a pure plastic compound that is used for various applications. Tests showed that high concentrations of compounds, such as styrene and benzene, can trigger cancer and affect the reproductive organs.
Styrofoam doesn’t respond well to heat. The product breaks and melts with high or continuous heat and leaks benzene and styrene into foods. Hence, the last thing you might want to do is either burn or put Styrofoam in a microwave.
2. Newer Version of Styrofoam
Technically, the second form of Styrofoam is not the traditional variant we are aware of, but a comparable item produced from various superior products with reduced concentrations of hazardous compounds.
The product can still be known as Styrofoam and in certain instances, look very much like the product. However, the components vary from the traditional variant and are specially made to resist heat more effectively.
Which of the two types of Styrofoam is safe to use in a microwave? A straightforward answer to that would be the newer version.
To guarantee that any chemical leaking reaches safety standards during its lifespan, the FDA needs comprehensive testing for those components. If the product passes the FDA evaluation, the product that can be used in a microwave will have a notification. Should you wonder whether Styrofoam is microwave safe, check for signs, warnings or notifications just on the underside or bottom of the product.
Can You Microwave Styrofoam? The Truth!
Since Styrofoam is a plastic variety, overheating may release those hazardous substances, including benzene and styrene.
Since these chemicals can trigger vision problems, digestive problems, and even indications of cancer if they are consumed continuously, many individuals attempt to prevent Styrofoam microwaving completely. Nevertheless, there are some conditions where Styrofoam microwaving doesn’t matter.
Below are some aspects that should be considered.
1. Certain Styrofoam containers are labeled safe for use in a microwave
The Styrofoam in cup noodles is designed for heat management. For containers known to be heated, manufacturers structure their Styrofoam in such a way that it prevents or reduces the release of toxins. The FDA approves these containers, and they are often labeled as such.
2. Pay attention to time and temperature
Untreated Styrofoam starts to discharge the chemical compound at approximately 200-224°C. The heat of a microwave may differ depending on food, wattage, and container; however scientifically, it will trigger less Styrofoam damage if microwaved for 30 seconds than microwaving it for 5 minutes.
Styrofoam could be utilized for a brief period safely if it only requires mild heating. Alternatively, if the Styrofoam is melting or decaying, discard the food completely even if you only had microwaved it for a few seconds.
3. A small opening on the container can make cooking safer
It is tempting to completely cover food, which can become messy in the heating process, to prevent extensive cleaning in the future. Nevertheless, not leaving ventilation for the food can cause it to overheat, making the Styrofoam container even messier.
To ensure safety, provide some vent: Slide the cover of your Styrofoam to the side or make a small opening in the sealed lid of your disposable Styrofoam. The likelihood of contamination with chemicals will be reduced as the Styrofoam is prevented from rapid melting.
Alternative Approaches for Styrofoam that Fails to Meet the FDA Requirements
If the Styrofoam fails to meet the requirements of the FDA, the best solution is to seek other alternatives. Microwave-safe Styrofoam is not always available; however, there are different ways microwave users can do.
1. Try a plastic plate that is non-Styrofoam
While these may be susceptible to smelting when overheated, they do not generally carry Styrofoam or other materials ‘ prospective hazards. It is helpful to warm your meals within brief ranges with these dishes and to inspect it frequently for damage.
Also, note that more greasy dishes can trigger the microwave tray to break down faster. In spite of these measures, the paper plates are an easy and secure dish for cooking with correct procedures.
2. Consider using a glass or any safe microwave container whenever possible
Most people who use the microwave at home have access to a glass container or any microwave-safe container. Yes, it is tempting to shoot a box into the microwave so that it doesn’t need to be emptied on a tray. However, it’s far better to wash this dirty dish than consuming harmful chemicals.
3. Cook food on a paper towel
Although the plate or container cannot be found, there are paper towels almost anywhere. This is a non-toxic and straightforward solution to the Styrofoam if you have a dish that could be set on a level surface. There are some safety tips to be taken into consideration for paper plates: Try avoiding paper sheets with complicated ink patterns, ensure that the towel is flat but not crumpled, and understand that any paper can burst into flames if it is cooked for an extended period. Wetting your paper towel slightly may also further reduce the risk of hazards.
It may be smart to purchase a microwave container for travel or business trips or even workplace use. The majority of the impacts of Styrofoam toxic substances are based on their long-term usage.
Will Styrofoam Melt?
Styrofoam is usually found on various foods or drinks we consume. But the question is, “Will the Styrofoam melt when placed in a microwave?”
Whether take-out Styrofoam boxes are microwavable, this can be a bit trickier Do not place it in a microwave if your take-out arrives in a styrofoam container. You have to transfer the foods first into a separate microwavable container. It may be safer to microwave when your take-out is served in cardboard. Be aware that containers having metal parts should not be put in a microwave as well.
2. Throwaway Plates
Are Styrofoam-made disposable plates microwavable? In past years, styrofoam plate has been generally put at a disadvantage and gradually replaced by paper plates. Paper plates are microwavable; however, they can break down with oily foods. The plates made from Styrofoam are not microwavable and should never be placed inside a microwave.
3. Coffee Cups
Are styrofoam cups microwavable? Styrofoam cups are manufactured when water is already heated under very short, quick drinking situations. The cups don’t have to be heated, and the coffee won’t even be capable of retaining the heat well. Put your coffee in a standard mug before placing it inside a microwave. You may additionally produce espresso with the Piamo for even more discriminating tastebuds.
4. Cup Noodles
Have you seen noodles in cups? Most Asian noodles have that kind of packaging. Cup products of noodles are specifically made to be microwaveable. However, check the box and ensure that the directions do not recommend transferring the noodles into another bowl.
Does Styrofoam melt? Styrofoam does melt, particularly when exposed to strong chemicals. Even chemical substances present in acetone may cause Styrofoam to melt. It also melts when microwaved for an extended period or when too hot substances of foods are placed on it.
Take for instance, a cup of water. The water heats up at approximately 212 ° F, well under the level where polystyrene was documented to start releasing some of its substances. Since the cup has cooled, polystyrene is now present in the cup of water.
If you are consuming 10 percent of the liquid from a cup weighing an average of five grams, that means you are ingesting around 500 mg of polystyrene.
If the cup is melted and you haven’t eaten bits of heated styrofoam, it is highly likely that somewhere in it, there is styrene. To decrease costs or generate a “best” producing item that could break down at reduced temperatures, manufacturers have introduced other chemicals to their styrofoam.
Important Points to Remember
- Pure polystyrene is extremely dangerous, but chemical additive aids to make it much more flame resistant based on the implementation. Styrofoam containers are unfortunately not suitable for cooking, and thus pose a risk of fire.
- Styrofoam has chemical components that when ingested may cause headaches, hearing loss, fatigue, stomach and eye irritation, dysfunctional central nervous system, and clinical depression.
- Polystyrene has a chemical compound called styrene, which, according to various studies, has been associated with cancer.
- Microwaving Styrofoam offers multiple advantages, including disposability, cost-effectiveness, and convenience.
Can you microwave Styrofoam? The answer is, it depends. Styrofoam that passed the FDA test and has a label that says microwave-safe can be put in a microwave. But for safety purposes, use other options instead, including ceramic plates, pyrex plates or glass and bowls. When in doubt, avoid microwaving Styrofoam completely. If there are signs of melting of material, throw the foods to prevent ingestion of toxic substances.